Page images
PDF
EPUB

contumely, the prou'man's scorn?' I desire my boys to know more concerning those early days; to learn some practical lessons for youth in the way of honorable advancement in the world : to feel unscathed by the ridicule of the effiminate popinjays, who are now permitted to give a tone, or rather a lack of tone, to society; and to bear unruffled the sneers of well-meaning but not very judicious friends, who 'wonder such a fine young man can't be better placed,' than where he will learn, by honest means, to gain an honest livelihood.

But to return to John JA 06 A:T). Who that remembers some incidents of his earlier career, and contemplates the development of the powers of an original and capacious mind, as displayed in the plan of the Astoria expeditions, but must admit the conviction, that he is one of the 'nobility of nature;' of a mental calibre far beyond that of the politicians of the day, whose shortsighted neglect of the great interests which he placed within their reach, has already deprived us of a powerful dependency, and left to the doubtful issue of negotiation, perhaps of war, great national advantages, which he had in fact secured, and offeredi, without cost or hazard, to the acceptance of the government.

'Scarcely fifty years ago, a shipment of ninety-two pounds, a great adventure at that day, and for him, as made to Canton. Its results led his sagacious intellect and judicious forcaste to jump at once to conclusions which would have staggered ordinary minds. A bold and masterly transaction with the North-West Company, in which he was frankly met, and fairly dealt with, by the kindred spirit of WILLIAM MCGILLIVBAY, placed him in the position which he sought; and presently the marts of Europe were enriched with his furs, while the seas of China whitened beneath the canvass of his ships. But the narrow prejudices of caste, of clan, of association, had striven to thwari him. Jealousies, partly mercantile, partly national, had opposed obstacles to his course; and he conceived the great project of liberating the United States from a detrimental dependence on the successful labors of a foreign company; and of founding on the shores of the Pacific a colony that would command all the fur trade of the Rocky Mountain region; should sustain Russian enterprise, yet keep in check Russian encroachment; should exclude, by means equally decisive and friendly, the British flag and influence from a territory which must belong to us, 'coute qui coute ;' should give assistance to our whalers, now almost driven from the northern seas by the Russian ascendancy; should facilitate our commerce with China, and afford, at a cheap rate, a valuable subs/itute for the precious metals required for that trade; should become the nucleus of an agriculturul, mercantile, and maritime community, offering new resorts to American enterprise, and fresh incentives to individual exertion.

The foundation of all these great results was laid ; and notwithstanding the disasters which beci his ships, the inefficiency of some of his agents, and the questionable fidelity of others, the superstructure would have been raised, had the government, after the Treaty of Ghent, caused the American flag to be again displayed at Astoria, thus restoring the 'status ante bellum.' A.colony of two hundred thousand freemen would now have extended along the coast, from the Columbia to the Bay of San Francisco. Our language, our arts, our religion, our power, would now have been firmly established, from the sea to the mountains; unquestioned by other nations, and without effort or expense by our own; and all this, and more, we should have owed to Mr. Aston. But we were too busy making presidents; and are we not so now?

"The elder Rothschild was perhaps a richer man than Mr. Astor, but in other respects liis inferior. Rothschild was a good arithmctician and a good banker. He wrought out, skilfully and successfully, the materials offered to his hand, by the social condition of his time : but his was not an original, an inventive, a creative mind. That of Mr. Astor, on the contrary, is strongly marked by such characteristics. All his bold and grand operations were in scenes before untried ; carrying out combinations before unthought of; opening up mines of hitherto undiscovered wealth ; and all tending not more to his own advantage, than to the prosperity of that country which had, by adoption, taken the place of his cherished Father-land. Talk not to me, then, of

[ocr errors]

"John Jacob,' as 'the rich Mr. Astor' only. Attributes of a higher character cluster thick around him. He is a man of whom New-York, of whom the United States, may be justly proud ; and if ever we again meet, I shall greet him with feelings warm, cordial, respectful; feelings far different from those with which I have heretofore regarded him. But whither ain I rambling? An inclement day, a warm stove, an unoccupied hour, and my pen in hand,' I have been scribbling, 'currente calamo,' without alteration, correction, or copy, like a penny-a-liner, or a modern novelist ; yet am I neither, but rather a very matter-of-fact and unimpressible person.

"Well, shall I burn what I have written? No! I will send it to old KNICKERBOCKER. He understands stops, and spelling, and grammar, and the scissors; and if he finds any thing that suits his purposes in this notice of some worthy kindred Knickerbockers, why he has my leave to print it. Perchance some thought may spring from it, that shall stimulate the young, encourage the struggling, cheer the desponding; and then it will not be without its use. We cannot all attain to the wealth of Astor or of LENOX; but industry, perseverance, integrity, may place many of us in the condition prayed for by that very sensible person, who of old exclaimed, 'Give me neither poverty nor riches ; which, in the year of our Lord 1840, means, as I understand it, one hundred thousand dollars, securely invested at six per cent., payable semi-annually.'

PASSAIC: A GROUP OF Poems.' We need scarcely invite the attention of the reader to' The Last Look,' from the pen of a well-known correspondent, 'Flaccus,’ in the present number. Those who peruse it, will agree with us that its merits require no heralding. The tale relates to the melancholy death of Mrs. SARAH CUMMING, wife of the Rev. HOOPER COMMING, pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church at Newark. She died by a fall from the rocks at Paterson, on the morning of the 22d of June, 1812, in the twenty-third year of her age. She was born in Portland, Maine, and was married and removed to Newark a few weeks only previous to her death. Her person was agreeable, her manners simple, and her mind strong and ingenuous. She had gone with Mr. Cumming to spend the Sabbath at Paterson, where lie was appointed to preach by the Presbytery. On Monday morning they took a walk to the Falls of the Passaic, which lie in the neighborhood. When they had finished their view of the wonderful scenery which this place afiords, she fell from a high part of the western rock, an elevation of seventy or eighty feet, into the basin below. 'She had sat down with her husband at a little distance from the brink, having complained of dizziness ; but wishing, previous to their departure, to take a last look of a scene so sublime, and to her so novel and interesting, she ventured again with her husband to the margin of the rock. When they had stood a few minutes, he said, 'It is time to return,' and requested her to accompany him. The path being narrow, he stepped back a pace or two, supposing she would follow. Alas! only a cry is heard. He turns, but she is gone from his sight for ever. In the dreadful agitation of bis mind, he runs backward and forward along the brink, crying, 'She is fallen! she is fallen!' At this perilous moment, a lad about sixteen years of age flew to bis aid, and once actually held him by the coat, when he seemed in the act of throwing himself down the precipice. They both descended by the usual passage to the foot of the rock; and again the agonized husband would have plunged into the abyss, but for the firm resistance of the youth, destined to preserve him during this paroxysm of unutterablc grief. After a long search, the body was found, and the procession formed in conveying this lamented lady to the tomb, amounted to more than sixteen hundred persons, of both sexes.' It was our purpose to have accompanied the concluding canto of 'The Great Descender' with a note, giving some particulars from the history of the immortal Patch: but beyond his consorting with a pet bear, leaping three times into the Passaic, once into the Niagara, and twice into the Genessee, where he at last "jumped the life to come,' his story presents little of romance or interest.

A TRUE Poet. – There are indigenous literary examples, too well known to require particular mention, of merely respectable versifiers, who have obtained — by dint perhaps in the first instance of self-adulation, and subsequently through the reverberated *puffing of friendly presses - a sort of notoriety, which has come to be dignified with, and acquiesced in as deserving, the title of 'reputation. These BALAAMs have continued to blow their trumpets, until the sonorous brattling of their brazen instruments sounds to their mistaken ears like the music of Fame. On the other hand, there are among us men devoted to the pursuits of an active business life – unassuming, distrustful of their powers, and averse to the pretension and clap-trap which they see around them- who are yet overflowing with poetical genius of the highest order. A rare example of the latter class, is William Pitt PALMER, Esa , of this city. Filling a toilful and responsible situation in a public office, he gains leisure but seldom to embody his beautiful conceptions; but when we find at our desk a small slip of refuse office-paper, in the handwriting of Mr. Palmer, unaccompanied by ostentatious self-criticism, or solicitation of any kind, we always anticipate a rich intellectual treat, and are never disappointed. In this wise came the following; which in affluence of thought, beauty of imagery, and melody of language, we have rarely seen surpassed.

[blocks in formation]

V.

Equal favor I show to the lofty and low,

*On the just and unjust I descend;
E'en the blind, whose vain spheres roll in darkness and tears,

Feel my smile the blest smile of a friend :
Nay, the flower of the waste by my love is embraced,

As the rose in the garden of kings;
At the chrysalis bier of the worm I appear,

And lo ? the gay butterfly's wings!

VI.

The desolate Morn, like a mourner forlorn,

Conceals all the pride of her charms,
Till I bid the bright Hours chase the Night from her bowers,

And lead the young Day to her arms:
And when the gay rover seeks Eve for his lover,

And sinks to her balmy repose,
I wrap their soft rest by the zephyr-fanned west,

In curtains of amber and rose.

VII.

From my sentinel steep, by the night-brooded deep,

I gaze with unslumbering eye,
When the cynosure star of ihe mariner

Is blotted from the sky;
And guided by me through the merciless sea,

Though sped by the hurricane's wings,
His compassless bark, lone, weltering, dark,

To the haven-home safely he brings.

VIII.

I waken the flowers in their dew-spangled bowers,

The birds in their chambers of green,
And mountain and plain glow with beauty again,

As they bask in my matinal sheen.
O if such ihe glad worth of my presence to earth,

Though fitful and fleeting the while,
What glories must rest on the home of the blest,

Ever bright with the Deity's smile!

W. P. P.

M. DE FONTANES. - The works of M. de FONTANES have lately been collected and published in Paris, preceded by a flattering letter of CHATEAUBRIAND, and biographical notices by M. Roger, a member of the French academy, and one or two other eminent savans. FONTANES was somewhat distinguished in his day, both as a poet and an orator. He translated Pope's 'Essay on Man,' and was the author of several original poems, two of which, 'La Chartreuse,' and 'Le Jour des Morts,' are still admired. In one of his official harangues, he dared to offer the example of the American hero as a model to the First Consul; and upon other public occasions, although in his quality of Prefect of the Corps Législatif, or as Grand Master of the University, he glorified NAPOLEON in many official speeches, still he more than once offended the Emperor, by a manly resistance to his massacres, which at length led to his disgrace. Summoned by his master to give his public adhesion to the coup d'etat, alias murder, of the Duke D'ENGHEIN, he nobly replied, 'Jamais ! and was inflexible. 'Pensez-vous toujours à Drike d'Enghein?" said the Emperor to hiin, a long time after. Mais il me semble,' replied he, 'que l'Empereur y pense autant que moi ! Had NAPOLEON's counsellors been as fearless and honest as Fontanes, many of his impulsive excesses might perhaps have been averted; and the lives of thousands whose bones glisten on the sands of Egypt, or whiten along the steppes of Russia, might have been spared for nobler purposes.

THE 'EMPIRE OF the West.' -We would call the attention of our readers to a copious and able article in the January number of the North American Rerieu, treating of 'Discovery beyond the Rocky Mountains. It is a paper that should be read and meditated upon by every American. It gives a clear and compendious narrative of the progressive steps of discovery and occupation by which we acquired an indefeasible right to the Oregon territory, and places in a startling light the actual state of our affairs in that most important and interesting region. The reader will here find that our claim to a country ‘equal in extent to the old United States, and stretching for nine or ten degrees along the great Pacific Ocean,' has become almost nullified, through the supineness of our own statesmen, and the wily and grasping policy of foreign traders. He will here find how Astoria, our original seat of empire, has been turned into a British fortified post and trading-house; how a foreign flag has been hoisted at the mouth of the Columbia, and how a mere trading company has seated itself at that great western portal of our empire, and actually locked it against our own citizens.

What are the petty questions which occupy Congress, and distract it with clamorous contention, in comparison with the adjustment of this great territorial right, wbich involves mpire? What is the North-East Boundary question, which concerns a mere strip of forest land, to this, on which depends our whole territory west of the Rocky Mountains, and our great high-way to the Pacific ? A little more delay on our part, and wily Commerce will have woven its web over the whole country, and it will cost thousands of lives, and millions of treasure, to break the meshes. We cannot help quoting some observations of the reviewer to the above purport:

“We have continual cause to lament the undue prominence in the public mind, which trivial and secondary questions, the petty issues of petty party controversy, are allowed to usurp, to the postponement or neglect of matters infinitely more important in reality. The topics of popular discussion in newspapers and in conversation, as well as in the more formal and serious public debates, and the action of the government, make the fact to be continually obvious. Thus, in Congress, for minutes occupied in things of true consequence, hours, nay, days are consumed on trivialities, which will speedily be forgotten, and pass away for ever, as transitory and as insignificant in themselves as the inotes, which play in the sunlight of a summer's noon. It has been so under every administration, of whatever party or opinion, the United States have seen. Hence it was, that the intrigues of the British companies among the Indians of the United States, and their general intrusion into our territory in the region of the Upper Mississippi and Upper Missouri, though repeatedly the subject of complaint and remonstrance on the part of observant men, as in this case of Captain Lewis, did not engage due attention from the government, until those intrigues and that intrusion resulted in the conclusion to have been anticipated from them, a general Indian war, which ravaged and desolated the whole region of the United States on the Ohio, the Lakes, and the Upper Mississippi. Transferred to another part of the territory of the United States, the same British companies, we fear, are now preparing the same dénouement of a like tragedy, by the same means, which failed to arouse the active resistance of our governinent of old, until savage massacre and conflagration burst on our western settlements ; but the operations of which, it is to be hoped, the government of the United States, warned by that example, will arrest by measures of suitable energy.

It is singular how practicable and easy the passage is across the Rocky Mountains. It seems as if Nature had provided a high-way for the caravans of commerce to pass from the Atlantic to the Pacific regions of our immense empire. "The gradual. rise of the country, in the vast slope from the Mississippi to the foot of the mountains, says Major Pitcher, in his report, 'makes considerable elevation, without perceptible increase, and then the gaps or depressions let you through almost upon a level.' Wagons and carriages may cross the mountains without difficulty, and with little delay in the day's journey. In fact, Captain Bonneville passed over to the western side of the mountains with wagons, several years since, and so easy and gradual was the ascent, that he was only made aware of the great elevation to which he had attained, by the wood-work of his wheels coming loose, through the rarity of the atmosphere. By the way, we should like to hear more of Lake Bonneville, that remarkable body of salt-water on the western side of the mountains, mentioned in the narrative of the Captain's expeditions. It

« PreviousContinue »